Monday, January 23, 2012


It has been 100 years since the British Antarctic Expedition reached the South Pole in January 1912. Not only was the exclusive 5-member polar party deflated to learn that they were not the 1st to reach the extreme destination (a Norwegian team had beaten them by 33 days), they lost their lives on the trek and remain entombed in the ice (as documented in Modern Mummies). Royal Navy officer Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912) led what is better known as the Terra Nova Expedition, Terra Nova being the name of the ship (pictured above in a set of rare photos* from National Geographic, more photos here). The caption notes some of the cargo that the ship - formerly a whaling and sealing vessel - carried, and I was curious to find a more complete list. According to a history by the Antarctic Heritage Trust, the Terra Nova carried the following list (though still not complete) of personnel and supplies:
  • 450 tons of compressed coal
  • 162 mutton carcasses
  • 65 sailors and scientists
  • 45 tons of fodder and oil-cake, bran, and crushed oats
  • 33 Siberian dogs
  • 19 ponies (2 Siberian and 17 Manchurian)
  • 3 motor sledges and drums of petrol
  • 3 carcasses of beef
  • cheese
  • butter
  • medical supplies
  • tools
  • photographic equipment
  • navigation equipment
  • surveying instruments
  • scientific instruments
  • clothing
  • sleeping bags
  • tents
  • furniture
  • prefabricated huts
The AHT history reads that despite the loss of Scott and 4 of his men, "The British Antarctic Expedition had achieved a great deal. The Union Jack was flown at the South Pole, a winter journey had been made to the Emperor penguin colony at Cape Crozier, extensive geological field work had been achieved by the northern and western parties, an impressive scientific and surveying programme was concluded and the second ascent was made of Mount Erebus. Very thorough meteorological records were kept, and these still provide useful base data today, while photographic images from the expedition are among the most evocative ever taken in the Antarctic."

*The photographs are in black and white, but I have taken the liberty of changing this image to sepia.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.